Professor: You’re Racist if You’re White

If you were hoping that the concept of “white privilege” might have the good graces to disappear before the dawning of a new year, that’s one Christmas present you’re unlikely to receive. In fact, as Emory University professor George Yancy put it in the New York Times, it’s time for all white people to “speak to, to admit to, the racist poison that is inside you.”

“Don’t tell me about how many black friends you have,” Yancy wrote. “Don’t tell me that you are married to someone of color. Don’t tell me that you voted for Obama. Don’t tell me that I’m the racist. Don’t tell me that you don’t see color. Don’t tell me that I’m blaming whites for everything. To do so is to hide yet again.”

In other words, you have no argument. Yancy is right, you are wrong.

“As you reap comfort from being white, we suffer for being black and people of color,” Yancy wrote. “Just as my comfort in being male is linked to the suffering of women, which makes me sexist, so, too, you are racist.”

Yes, and your comfort as a law-abiding citizen is linked to the suffering of criminals, which makes you responsible for their plight. And your comfort as a human is linked to the suffering of animals, so perhaps PETA can come up with an “ist” to describe that as well.

But most specifically, Professor Yancy, your comfort as an academic is linked to the suffering of everyday Americans who don’t have the privilege of living in an ivory tower. It is your privilege to spend your days dreaming up social theories for which you’ll never have to answer. To denigrate the majority of Americans for having the audacity to worry about raising a family, getting ahead in their careers, and living a good life without constantly examining the hidden benefits of being white. When is there time in the day for this kind of reflection?

Yancy does not explain how all of this acknowledgment will actually help change society. Maybe liberals have finally been proven wrong so many times that they shy away from making predictions. It’s enough just to spout this nonsense, then, without justifying it with any rationale. Maybe it’s best that way; the obvious racism is better exposed when it isn’t hidden by fictional prognostication.

It is an inescapable fact of a free society that there will be some degree of inequality. In the Civil Rights Era, we put laws in place that eliminated racial discrimination explicitly. The white man’s burden has been sufficiently addressed. To go further would be to undermine democracy and thwart the free market. Which is, of course, exactly what this philosophy aims to do.

One can hope that Americans will eventually reject this narrative as unfair and illogical, but the political landscape of 2015 leaves plenty of room for doubt.

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